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Tooth Loss May Indicate Malnutrition

Older adults with 10 teeth to 19 teeth are at increased risk for malnutrition compared with those who have 20 or more teeth, according to a new study out of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Elderly man
Image by DEAN MITCHELL/E+/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Older adults with 10 teeth to 19 teeth are at increased risk for malnutrition compared with those who have 20 or more teeth, according to a new study out of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Published in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, the study, “Dentition and Malnutrition Risk in Community-Dwelling Older Adults,” builds off past research exploring the associations between missing teeth and nutritional status.

In phase 1 of the most recent mixed-methods study, researchers analyzed the health records of 107 community-dwelling older adults who were treated from 2015 to 2016 at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. The results showed more than 25% of this patient cohort had or were at risk for malnutrition. Patients who had malnutrition experienced increased weight loss, consumed fewer calories, and more frequently reported dementia/depression and severe illnesses than those with a normal nutritional status, according to the study.

The study authors concluded that dental settings are well-positioned to provide nutritional status screenings and, for those deemed at risk, referrals for nutritional counseling and programs such as Meals on Wheels

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. January 2019;17(1):10.

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